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Chapter 3. The Structure of Archaeological Inquiry. Outline. Levels of Theory Paradigms Paradigms in Archaeology Is Postmodernism All That New? Archaeology Today The Structure of Archaeological Inquiry Conclusion: Processualist or Postprocessualist?. Theory.

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chapter 3

Chapter 3

The Structure of Archaeological Inquiry

outline
Outline
  • Levels of Theory
  • Paradigms
  • Paradigms in Archaeology
  • Is Postmodernism All That New?
  • Archaeology Today
  • The Structure of Archaeological Inquiry
  • Conclusion: Processualist or Postprocessualist?
theory
Theory
  • An explanation for observed, empirical phenomena.
  • It is empirical and seeks to explain the relationships between variables; it is an answer to a “why” question.
paradigm
Paradigm
  • The overarching framework, often unstated, for understanding a research problem.
  • It is a researcher’s “culture.”
rockshelter
Rockshelter
  • A common type of archaeological site, consisting of a rock overhang that is deep enough to provide shelter but not deep enough to be called a cave.
    • ecofactPlant or animal remains found in an archaeological site.
feature
Feature
  • The nonportable evidence of technology.
  • Examples: fire hearths, architectural elements, artifact clusters, garbage pits, soil stains.
gatecliff shelter
Gatecliff Shelter
  • A prehistoric rockshelter in Nevada where people camped over a 7000 year period.
  • Buried in Gatecliff Shelter were:
    • Artifacts: bone awls, baskets, grinding stones, woven sagebrush bark mats, shells and turquoise used as ornaments.
    • Ecofacts: bighorn sheep bones, charcoal, piñon nut hulls, and pollen.
    • Features: pits, hearths, rodent burrows
data at gatecliff shelter
Data at Gatecliff Shelter
  • No data was found at Gatecliff shelter.
  • Archaeologists do not excavate data, they excavate objects.
  • Data are observations made on those objects.
theories
Theories
  • low-level theories - observations and interpretations from hands-on field and lab work.
  • middle-level theory - hypothesis that links archaeological observations with human behavior or natural processes that produced them.
  • high-level theory - theory that seeks to answer large “why” questions.
experimental archaeology
Experimental Archaeology
  • Experiments to determine the archaeological correlates of ancient behavior.
    • ethnoarchaeology - The study of contemporary peoples to determine how human behavior is translated into the archaeological record.
    • taphonomy - The study of how organisms become part of the fossil record.
paradigms in archaeology
Paradigms in Archaeology
  • Processual paradigm
    • Explains social, economic, and cultural change as the result of adaptation to material conditions.
  • Postprocessual paradigm
    • Focuses on humanistic approaches and rejects scientific objectivity; more concerned with interpreting the past than testing hypotheses.
cultural materialism
Cultural Materialism
  • Views environmental, technological, and economic factors as the most powerful and pervasive determinants of human behavior.
  • By exclusively embracing a scientific framework to examine the effects of material factors on human societies, cultural materialists reject humanist, ideational approaches and advocate the adaptive view of culture.
cultural materialists
Cultural Materialists
  • Use three fundamental concepts in their approach:
    • Infrastructure
    • Structure
    • Superstructure
infrastructure
Infrastructure
  • Food, shelter, reproduction, and health
  • Mediates a culture’s interactions with the natural and social environment through:
    • Mode of production - technology, practices, and social relations used in basic subsistence production
    • Mode of reproduction - technology, practices, and social relations used to expand, limit, and maintain population.
structure
Structure
  • Made up of interpersonal relationships that emerge as behavior.
  • Domestic economy - organization of reproduction and production, exchange, and consumption within domestic settings.
  • Political economy - organization of reproduction, production, exchange, and consumption within and between bands, villages, chiefdoms, states, and empires.
superstructure
Superstructure
  • Refers to a society’s values, aesthetics, rules, beliefs, religions, and symbols, which can be behaviorally manifested as art,music, dance, literature, advertising, religious rituals, sports, games, hobbies, and even science.
principle of infrastructural determinism
Principle of Infrastructural Determinism
  • Human society strives to meet the needs most important to the survival and well-being of human individuals (sex, sleep, nutrition, and shelter).
  • The infrastructure determines the rest of the sociocultural system.
enlightenment
Enlightenment
  • A shift in Western philosophy that advocated absolute truth, science, rational planning of ideal social orders, and standardization of knowledge.
    • Science and technology would free people from the oppression myth, religion, and superstition.
    • Control of nature through technology would permit the development of moral and spiritual virtues.
postmodernism
Postmodernism
  • Argues that there really is no truth and no coherence except that all understanding and meaning is “historically situated.”
  • Our understanding of the world is not really truth, but rather only a product of the time in which we live.
answer paradigm
Answer: paradigm
  • A paradigm is the overarching framework for understanding a research problem.
answer b false
Answer: B. False
  • Low-level theories areobservations and interpretations from hands-on field and lab work, high-level theories seek to answer large “why” questions.
slide29
3. This paradigm explains social, economic, and cultural change as the result of adaptation to material conditions.
  • Processual paradigm
  • Postprocessual paradigm
  • Cultural materialism
  • Postmodernism
  • None of the above.
answer a
Answer: A
  • The processual paradigm explains social, economic, and cultural change as the result of adaptation to material conditions.
slide31
4. Cultural materialism
  • Argues that there is no truth and that all meaning is “historically situated.”
  • Views environmental, technological, and economic factors as the most powerful determinants of human behavior.
  • Believes science and technology will free people from oppression.
  • None of the above.
answer b
Answer: B
  • Cultural materialism views environmental, technological, and economic factors as the most powerful determinants of human behavior.